Letitia James Faces a Lawsuit of Her Own 

lev radin / shutterstock.com
lev radin / shutterstock.com

Fresh off her Trump “victory,” New York Attorney General Letitia James has turned her attention to Nassau County and now finds herself the subject of a lawsuit. 

James has taken decisive action by issuing a cease-and-desist order against Nassau County, targeting the recent “Executive Order for Fairness for Women and Girls in Sports” signed by Republican Executive Bruce Blakeman. The order seeks to prohibit transgender women and girls from participating in women’s and girls’ sports teams at county-run sports facilities. 

Blakeman’s order requires sports teams and leagues to assign athletes to one of three categories based on their gender assigned at birth: “males, men, or boys,” “females, women, or girls,” or “coed or mixed, including both males and females.” Notably, this categorization excludes transgender athletes from participating in sports aligned with their gender identity. 

James demanded that Nassau County immediately rescind Blakeman’s executive order, threatening further legal action if the order was not revoked within five days. James emphasizes that discrimination based on gender identity or expression is unacceptable under New York law, and there is no room for hate or bigotry in the state. 

New York’s Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul condemned Blakeman’s actions. In a statement issued last month, she accused Blakeman of attempting to “gain political advantage by targeting some of our state’s most vulnerable children.”   

The impact of this order extends beyond Nassau County. It applies to over 100 venues, including general playing fields, baseball, football, soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and ice rinks.  

However, the ban imposed by Blakeman appears to contravene New York State’s anti-bias laws, which prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on “gender identity or expression.” By excluding transgender women and girls from participating in sports aligned with their gender identity, the executive order runs afoul of these protective measures. 

James said, “This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal. Nassau County must immediately rescind the order, or we will not hesitate to take decisive legal action.” 

The response from Nassau County was likely not what James had hoped for. Now, Nassau County has filed a lawsuit in a federal court against her in a preemptive strike and a “cease and desist” order of its own. 

Blakeman filed a 12-page lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, asserting that James’ cease-and-desist letter infringes upon the constitutional rights of biologically female individuals, a federally recognized protected class. 

Blakeman’s complaint invokes the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection, and contends that his executive order safeguards women and girls seeking fairness in sports. Notably, the scope of Blakeman’s order is confined to county-run facilities. Blakeman seeks a declaratory judgment affirming the legality of his executive order. 

James’ reaction was swift and entirely predictable. Her office repeated its commitment to overturn the executive order, saying, “Our laws protect New Yorkers from discrimination, and the Office of the Attorney General is committed to upholding those laws and protecting our communities.” 

Although Blakeman could not specifically cite any instances of New York’s female athletes being harmed by transgender female athletes, he noted that the government can intervene to prevent citizens from harm proactively. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is the father of a 16-year-old female volleyball player. According to the complaint, he believes that allowing transgender females to participate in girls’ youth sports could pose a risk of injury to his daughter.  

His fears are well-founded. In North Carolina, during a high school volleyball game, a transgender player spiked the ball into a girl’s head, causing severe injuries to her head and neck. Another similar incident happened when a different North Carolina high school volleyball player suffered severe physical and mental injuries after being hit in the face by a transgender athlete during a game. 

St. John’s University law professor John Barrett believes that because James’ actions were limited to the cease-and-desist letter and press statement, it wasn’t immediately evident that Blakeman’s complaint would escalate into a legal controversy requiring the court’s intervention. 

Susan Hazeldean, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, believes that Nassau County hasn’t suffered any harm from James’ actions and suggests that Blakeman’s order might be primarily aimed at “gaining positive publicity.” However, she warned that the state may not immediately dismiss Nassau County’s lawsuit and would use it as a starting point for legal arguments regarding the ban’s legality. 

If the case goes to court, it will mark James’ first lawsuit in which she is the defendant.  

Still riding high from her destruction of Trump’s financial legacy, James continues to demonstrate her lack of interest in safeguarding the innocent, whether they are a former president or a female high school athlete.